"Your Loving Son": Letters of an RCAF Navigator

Description

216 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography
$19.95
ISBN 0-88977-149-9
DDC 940.54'4971'092

Year

2002

Contributor

Edited by Stephen L.V. King
Reviewed by Dave Bennett

David Bennett is the national director of the Department of Workplace Health, Safety and Environment at the Canadian Labour Congress in Ottawa.

Review

On the night of September 22–23, 1943, an RAF Stirling bomber,
returning from a raid on Hannover, exploded in the air. Of the crew of
seven, two survived, one Canadian and the other English. The other five,
one Welsh, the others Canadian, were killed. The letters of the
navigator, Flight Sergeant George McCowan King of Summerberry,
Saskatchewan, have been superbly edited and annotated by his nephew,
Stephen L.V. King.

The letters are more important for what they reveal about local life in
Saskatchewan and in wartime Britain, than they are about the work and
routines of an aircrew. Apart from a preoccupation with booze, tobacco,
and women—in roughly that order—the striking thing about the letters
is the intense concern with family and friends: immediate family at home
and wider family in the old country; comrades, some of them relatives in
Summerberry and overseas; and the close-knit aircrew themselves.

A second, equally large group of letters concern the fate of the bomber
crew. To an astonishing degree, the families of all the aircrew kept in
close touch with each other, waiting for news from Germany, rejoicing at
the survivors, hoping and praying for good news, and consoling each
other when, agonizingly slowly, the fate of the missing five became
known.

These letters are utterly in character: the vivacious widow of the
pilot from Vancouver; the slightly stiff letters from King’s family;
and the heartwrenching letters from the widow of the Welshman, Taffy
Hicks, two of whose brothers had also been killed in the air. Then a
final letter to King’s parents from William Morement, the English
flight engineer who, with gunner William Baker of Toronto, survived the
blazing aircraft and German captivity, both badly injured.

Citation

“"Your Loving Son": Letters of an RCAF Navigator,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/10182.